Researchers call for gender-inclusive crop varieties to aid food security

12 March 2021

The global population is rapidly increasing and there is need for increase in global food production to meet the needs of the growing population. Although maize is one of the most important and widely cultivated staple crop in Sub-Saharan Africa, yields have been significantly low in many countries. However, research has shown that gender has significant impacts on agricultural activities. One of the reasons being that men and women have unequal access to and control over key productive resources upon which agriculture depends. Gender differences also affect how crops are utilized in postharvest food processing and marketing and how these are valued by different consumer groups.

A study was carried out by a team of researchers led by Amare Tegbaru, an IITA Gender Specialist as at the time the work was done, to examine the development of drought/ tolerant maize varieties in West Africa. The study was done using gender-disaggregated data recorded during participatory on-farm maize trials by the Stress Tolerant Maize for Africa Project. The trials were conducted in agroecological zones of Benin, Mali and Nigeria to identify men and women farmer’s expressed varietal and trait preferences in order to evaluate plant breeding strategy. It employed farmers’ responses to varietal and trait preference. Results of the analyses will help to identify specific gender preferred characteristics that relate to postharvest, nutritional and processing qualities with implications for future breeding of maize varieties appropriate for both male and female farmers.

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